“She Will Never Be a Doormat”: Ideal Female Characters in Margaret Ogola’s Novels

Alina Nikolaevna Rinkanya



One of the concerns demonstrated explicitly in African women writers literature (which we will define as literature “by women, about women and for women”) is the creation of an ideal female character that may be used as a role model for the current and forthcoming generations of readers. These characters usually serve to embody all those concepts that nurture the feminist orientation of the authors-the ideas of emancipation, empowerment, self-reliance, equality, and personal and social progress.

Women’s literature of Kenya, being founded in the early 1960s, received a strong impetus in the 1980s and 1990s with the appearance of a new generation of Kenyan female writers, whose works turned women’s writing into a strong and rapidly growing trend. The late 1990s and 2000s saw a further growth of women’s writing in Kenya. The ranks of women authors were replenished with new names, among which the leading position will for long be retained by Margaret Ogola (1958-2011), a medical doctor, educationist and the author of several non-fiction works and four novels which made her the most prominent figure in Kenyan women’s literature of recent times. The present article analyses female characters in all four novels of Margaret Ogola, with a task to discern the characters that may be deemed “exemplary”, or ideal. These characters embody the author’s vision of a new Kenyan woman and her role in Kenyan society, and represent the author’s concept of a role model for her fellow female Kenyans.

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